Community partnerships

A range of government and non-government organisations in the community can assist schools in supporting students from refugee backgrounds and their families.

Homework and tutorial assistance

The Refugee Action Support (RAS) Program places university student tutors in schools, provides after school tuition and in-school assistance to refugee students to develop their literacy skills. The Refugee Action Support partnerships are joint initiatives of the NSW Department of Education, the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation and a number of universities.

Mentoring support

Mentoring support helps students from refugee backgrounds engage in school life, progress in their studies and plan their transition to further education by developing skills such as study and research skills, awareness of school and university cultures in Australia.

The LEAP Macquarie Mentoring Program is a refugee mentoring program providing university students as mentors for high school students from refugee backgrounds. The mentors assist students to set personal goals and understand university and other educational pathways. The program was developed through a partnership between Macquarie University and the NSW Department of Education.

The Ready Arrive Work program

The Ready Arrive Work (RAW) program provides practical activities and strategies to engage students from refugee backgrounds in vocational learning, career planning and making links with employers and community organisations. The program is delivered for schools across NSW through a partnership between the NSW Department of Education and JobQuest Penrith.

Settlement support for families

The Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP) provides support to humanitarian entrants to build the skills and knowledge they need to become self-reliant and active members of the Australian community.

Settlement support for asylum seekers is available at the Asylum Seekers Centre.

Go to Settlement Services International (SSI) for information about government services, community organisations and local organisations that can assist schools. For instance, they can help with filling in forms and preparing job applications. They can also give information about Australian society, customs and institutions and provide basic information on health, employment, education and the law.

SSI is also able to assist schools in providing support for students and families through programs that support the needs of children, families and youth, for example, after school homework centres, sporting programs and family harmony programs.

Refugee health services

The NSW Refugee Health Service provides health services for people from a refugee background by assisting refugees and the health professionals who work with them.

Services provided include specialised health clinics for refugee children, youth and adults; orientation to the health system; advocacy and advice regarding access to health care; and programs in areas of preventative health, for example health screening, oral hygiene, nutrition. Refugee students may be referred by schools to the NSW Refugee Health clinics or the Health Assessment for Refugee Kids (HARK) clinic at Westmead Children's Hospital.

Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors provides programs and services to assist individuals from refugee backgrounds to recover from trauma and refugee communities to empower themselves. STARTTS also provides training for teachers and school counsellors. More information can be found on their website.

Watch the following video about schools' partnerships with community organisations.

School partnerships with community organisations.


Kim Cootes, Assistant Principal ESL, Fairfield Primary School

Louise Kleinbergs, Refugee Transition Coordinator, Holroyd High School

Max Schneider, School Liaison Officer Counsellor, STARTTS

Karin Harrison, ESL Teacher, Blacktown Girls High School

Nerida Cracknell, Learning and Support Teacher, Blacktown Girls High School

Peter Flowers, Principal, Blacktown Girls High School

Laura Roby, ESL Teacher, Bossley Park High School


Kim: There's a wealth of community agencies out there to support refugee students

Louise: We've had job quest come and work with our students on the RAW program

Drum teacher: Next three you've got the...

(slow drumming)

Louise: STARTTS to come and work with the students delivering drum beat we have links with our migrant resource centre, so there's just a few of the agencies that we've be able to really tap into.

Teacher: A healthy mouth, it's important. It allows you to speak and smile properly.

Kim: Some of the agencies that we've worked with includes the NSW refugee health service, that now have refugee health nurses, that do learning for parent communities.

Parent: Is the tap water safe to drink?

Teacher: Tap water is safe to drink, and you don't need to boil your tap water before drinking.

Kim: So they're an invaluable partner

Drum teacher: Today we'll choose what song we want to perform at the end of the year.

Drum support teacher: When we come back, we will give you maybe one week or two weeks in advance before the performance.

Kim: We also have a strong connection with STARTTS who provide counselling support for refugee students and their families. But they also run group programs, for example, capoeira angola, drumbeat, and a number of camps.

(percussion instruments, singing, clapping)

Max: We run therapeutic groups for young people because we find that those can help not only to deal with the psychological concerns that they present with, but also to facilitate that connection between students.

(capoeira music and singing)

Often the refugee student will feel like, it's only him or her that feels the way that they do, but being in a group context they quickly realise that others are going through the same thing.

Dummer: you shake hands, make a chiva and roll, and then you slide.

(percussion music)

Mr Chen: Good morning year 9, my name's Mr Chen and I'll be your teacher for Ready Arrive Work.

Karin: We have the RAW program, which is the Ready Arrive Work program which we run with the careers adviser and the ESL teacher.

Nerida: It's a readiness for work program so they really make sure that they understand what they need to have in their resumes and what's expected when they go to the workforce.

Mr Chen: If you're looking at the floor like this, how are you going to look, how're you going to look Yvette?

Yvette: Very rude and lazy.

Peter: SIFRA is another one, social inclusion for refugee youth

Karin: which is a joint program with TAFE and Centrelink and STARTTS.

Nerida. Quite often these girls are the link between home and Centrelink, so they were able to find out what they need to do to get the best support for their families.

Peter: We take the students to TAFE. We find that many of them have a really limited knowledge of what to do after school.

(pop music)

Nerida: It's been a real eye opener for the girls to go to some of the TAFE and realise they can do nursing now, or digital media, there's a myriad of courses that they can have a go at.

(pop music)

Karin: And then we have the Refugee Action Support Programs.

Nerida: Students from Western Sydney University who are studying to be teachers come and help with the homework centre.

Karin: Macquarie mentoring is also offered here at the school. The Macquarie University students volunteer to work with our senior students.

Nerida: A lot of mentors have a refugee-like background themselves or ESL background so they come and say to the girls: "yes uni is scary, but you can do it, look at me".

Teacher: That's a really good point. Maybe if you put it in shorter sentences.

Laura: We work in conjunction with the University of Western Sydney, and get some practicum teachers in, and they do a special literacy/numeracy program with the students to try and support their development.

Student: I...also...learned...not to judge people... by their look...but what's inside them.

Narrator: There are many organisations in the community (hand clap) that can assist schools by providing additional expertise, resources, programs and support for refugee students and their families.

Nerida: We need to really get a partnership going with the communities. If we're going to be successful, we need to have those relationships.

(music fades out)


(drumming ends)

[End of transcript]


  • Student management and wellbeing
  • Teaching and learning


  • Teaching

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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